Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak motive power’

New ALC-42s Move East on Capitol Limited

January 11, 2022

Two new Siemens ALC-42 locomotives operated eastbound on the Capitol Limited today behind P42DC No. 188.

An online report indicated that the 305 and 304 were being delivered from the Siemens assembly plant in California. Both units wore the Phase VI livery.

Reportedly Amtrak is training crews in Chicago in the operation of the new ALC-42 locomotives, which are slated to begin replacing P42s in Amtrak’s national network this year although P42s will continue to work for a few more years as Amtrak takes delivery of its ALC-42 fleet.

Nos. 29 and 30 in recent days have been operating with four cars, a sleeping car, dining car and two coaches. During the holiday travel season the Capitol Limited had been assigned an additional sleeping car.

In an unrelated development, Amtrak continued to have equipment and weather-related issues last weekend.

The eastbound Cardinal departed Chicago on Saturday night more than seven hours late due to what Amtrak described on its Twitter feed as equipment and mechanical issues.

Also running late in recent days have been the California Zephyr and Empire Builder.

Trains magazine reported on its website that a westbound Zephyr last weekend was delayed by more than seven hours after hitting a track obstruction east of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

The Empire Builder continued to be plagued by weather woes with the train that departed Chicago last Friday canceled in Minot, North Dakota, due to weather-related operating conditions.

The westbound Builder from Chicago was canceled on Saturday and Sunday while its eastbound counterpart was canceled from Seattle and Portland on Sunday and Monday.

Saturday’s eastbound Empire Builder had originated in Spokane, Washington, rather than Seattle.

One Morning in Jackson, Michigan

November 25, 2021

It is a pleasant June 28, 1997, summer morning in Jackson, Michigan. I’ve drive here to spend a day catching Amtrak trains. From here I would drive to Battle Creek to catch the International in both directions on its Chicago-Toronto trek and end the day getting trains in Ann Arbor.

At the time, trains in the Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) corridor were powered by P32-8 locomotives built by General Electric. The units were pointed east, which meant they pulled eastbounds and pushed westbounds.

Facing west was a cab car, either a former F40PH that had been rebuilt into a non-powered control unit, or a former Metroliner car serving as a cab car.

Amtrak owned 20 P32-8 units that it received in December 1991. They wore a stylized Phase III livery that was unique to these locomotives. It wasn’t long before railfans began calling them “Pepsi cans” because of the resemblance of the livery to a beverage can design of the time.

It also was a time when trains between Chicago and Detroit had individual names of Wolverine, Lake Cities and Twilight Limited.

In the top image No. 504 is pushing the Lake Cities out of Jackson toward Chicago. In the bottom image, No. 513 is pulling the Wolverine into the station.

Notice the mismatched style of the number boards above the front windshields.

Although P32s saw service on long-distance trains, they were most commonly used in corridor service. The “Pepsi can” look lasted a few years but eventually gave way to Phase IV.

The special Phase III livery used on the P32s was revived this year when a P42DC No. 160 was repainted in that livery.

An Early Look at Amtrak’s New Motive Power Look

November 1, 2021

Amtrak ALC-42 Nos. 300 and 301 were testing in Michigan last week. No. 301 is a one-off Day One 50th Anniversary unit that itself was a one-off design applied in 1971 to a Penn Central E8A for an Amtrak first day of operation ceremony. No. 300 has the Phase VI livery. I caught them resting at Jackson, Michigan, near the old New York Central shops.  

Photographs by Todd Dillon

Amtrak Debuts ‘Pepsi Can’ P42 Livery

October 10, 2021

An artist rendering of the Phase III Dash 8 heritage livery.

Amtrak debuted its sixth and final locomotive that celebrates the carrier’s 50th anniversary.

P42DC No. 160 has the modified Phase III livery that was applied in 1991 to P32-8BWH locomotives and dubbed by some railfans as the “Pepsi Can” scheme because of its resemblance to the design of the beverage can at the time.

The 160 made its initial trip on the point of the Capitol Limited from Chicago to Washington and has since pulled Eastern corridor trains out of Washington.

The “Pepsi Can” look was unique to the P32 units, which saw a lot of service in Midwest Corridors. All of those units have since been repainted into Phase IV and Phase V liveries.

Amtrak’s P32s today are primarly used for trailing unit and switching duties. They are seldom seen leading trains.

Earlier this year Amtrak applied its 50th anniversary herald to P42 No. 46, which otherwise retains its Phase V blue and silver livery.

Other P42 units given 50th anniversary treatments include the 161, which wears a Phase I livery and the 108, which is adorned with a modified version of the Phase VI livery.

Another 50th anniversary unit is P42 No. 100, which wears a one-off “Midnight Blue” livery of a predominately dark blue carbody with red and white stripes as well as the 50th anniversary herald and slogan.

That unit was described by Amtrak as a tribute to its employees who work its overnight long distance trains.

Amtrak has said the Phase VI livery is a transitional look being applied to eight Siemens ALC-42 Chargers the carrier will take delivery of through 2024. Deliveries are expected to be at a pace of two locomotives per month.

The first of the new Chargers, No. 300, is currently undergoing testing and has yet to be released for duty in revenue service.

The difference between the liveries on the 300 versus the 108 is that the latter lacks the red chevron stripe at the back of the carbody of the 300.

Amtrak has said having the blue on the carbody of the Phase VI livery end at a red chevron is meant to harken back to the similar mark that was part of the Phase I livery.

The second ALC-42, No. 301, wears a one-off “Day One” livery that replicates a scheme applied to one Penn Central E8A used in first day ceremonies on May 1, 1971.

The “Day One” E8A continued in revenue service in that look for several months before being repainted into the then-standard Phase I “pointless arrow” scheme that is replicated on P42 No. 161.

Still to come is the Phase VIII livery that most of the ALC-42 locomotives will wear. In time the ALC-42 will become Amtrak’s standard motive power in the national network, replacing the P42s.

Still plying the rails are a handful of Amtrak heritage units repainted in 2011 for Amtrak’s 40th anniversary. These include units in Phase II, Phase III and Phase IV schemes.

Amtrak’s ‘Midnight Blue’ Passes Through

August 20, 2021

Amtrak’s Midnight Blue locomotive passed through Northeast Ohio Thursday and Friday mornings on the point of the Lake Shore Limited.

P42DC No. 100 wears a one-off dark blue livery that observes Amtrak’s 50th anniversary and pays tribute to its workers who are assigned to overnight trains.

No. 100 was accompanied by P42DC No. 46, which is painted in the standard Phase V livery but carries the 50th anniversary herald on its flanks.

That duo went west on No. 49 on Thursday and east on No. 48 on Friday.

A notable addition to No. 48 on Friday was the consist of Amtrak’s Cardinal consisting of two Amfleet II coaches, an Amfleet food service car, a Viewliner sleeper and a Viewliner baggage-dorm.

That equipment was being ferried to New York to make up the westbound Cardinal that will depart the Big Apple on Sunday morning.

It would have operated from Chicago to New York on Thursday night and throughout Friday but Train 50 was canceled east of Indianapolis due to a CSX freight train derailment 20 miles east of Indianapolis Thursday morning.

No. 50 of Thursday night terminated in Indianapolis and reportedly had a consist of one locomotive, one coach and one food service car.

The Cardinal consist was tacked onto the rear of No. 48. Throughout the summer Nos. 48 and 49 have operated with two P42DC locomotives, a Boston Viewliner sleeper, an Amfleet café car, four Amfleet II coaches, a Viewliner dining car, two New York Viewliner sleepers and a Viewliner baggage car.

In past years Nos. 48 and 49 have had two Boston coaches and four New York coaches.

Amtrak ‘Day One’ Charger Passes Through

July 21, 2021

Amtrak’s “Day One” Siemens ACLC42 Charger locomotive headed east on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in the motive power consist of the Capitol Limited.

Amtrak’s possession of the second of 75 ACL42 units that the passenger carrier has ordered won’t be official until No. 301 reaches Wilmington, Delaware.

No. 301 trailed behind P42 No. 142 on Train 30, which had a Superliner consist of a dormitory car, a sleeper, a Cross-Country Café and two coaches, one of them a baggage-coach.

Nos. 29 and 30 are not operating currently with Viewliner baggage cars or Sightseer Lounges.

The journey of No. 301 to Chicago was hindered by mechanical problems with the motive power on the eastbound California Zephyr

No. 6 suffered a locomotive breakdown in Nebraska and had to be assigned a BNSF locomotive to continue to Chicago, where it arrived at 3:28 a.m. Tuesday, more than 12.5 hours late.

Amtrak ‘Day One’ Charger Heading East

July 20, 2021

Amtrak’s Day One tribute locomotive is making its way east from the Siemens factory in California.

ALC-42 No. 301 was in the motive power consist of the California Zephyr that left Emeryville, California, on Saturday.

That train was to arrive in Chicago on Monday afternoon but mechanic issues en route had it running more than seven hours late.

No. 301 is expected to leave Chicago on the Capitol Limited on Tuesday evening en route to Washington and eventually an Amtrak shop in Delaware.

The unit wears the one-off livery applied to a Penn Central E8A 4316 for a May 1, 1971, ceremony to mark the inauguration of Amtrak.

Amtrak has ordered 75 ALC-42s from Siemens to replace the GE-built P42DCs and P40s now pulling long-distance and certain corridor trains.

The Day One design is one of several liveries Amtrak created to mark its 50th anniversary.

Thus far only the Midnight Blue scheme applied to P42DC No. 100 is in revenue service.

That locomotive has made several trips on the Lake Shore Limited in the past couple weeks.

One other ALC-42 has been accepted by Amtrak and is being tested.

Accelerating in Waterloo

June 27, 2021

Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited is picking up speed as it accelerates away from its station stop in Waterloo, Indiana, one hour and 15 minutes late.

It is the first image I’ve made of the Capitol in well over a year and getting this photograph took good timing and fast acting.

Before leaving home I had checked the status of Amtrak trains through Waterloo. There wasn’t enough time to get there before the Lake Shore Limited arrived and chances were good I would miss No. 29 by 15 minutes or so.

It had been reported out of Cleveland an hour and 20 minutes but Amtrak’s website projected No. 29 would make up a good chunk of that and arrive in Waterloo 59 minutes late.

If that held, I had no chance. But I also knew Amtrak can get delayed between Waterloo and Toledo.

As I neared Waterloo I checked the Amtrak website again. No. 29 was now projected to arrive in Waterloo at 7:46 a.m. I figured to miss by that about five minutes.

The exit ramp for Waterloo onto U.S. Route 6 from Interstate 69 is just beyond the bridge over the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

As I passed the exit signs for Route 6 it was 7:47 a.m. on my car’s clock. I slowed for the bridge and exit ramp and looked toward the east. No headlight was in sight.

That was a good sign This just might work after all.

Nearly a month earlier as I had driven over that same bridge I had seen the headlight of a fast approaching Amtrak 49. I was going to fast to get to the side of the road in time to try to get a grab shot and a pickup truck also getting off at the exit was right on my tail.

So close and yet so far away.

This time I drove to a road that crosses the Chicago Line at grade shortly after I got onto Route 6. The gates were up. Another good sign.

I checked the Amtrak website and saw No. 29 was now projected to arrive in Waterloo at 7:53 a.m., three minutes from now. Did I have time to get to the station?

I began driving down a road that runs parallel to the tracks. Then there it was up ahead. I immediately pulled to the side of Lincoln Street, grabbed my camera and dashed into the weeds to make this image.

There was no time so think about what I wanted to do. I barely was able to get all of the train in the frame.

Photographing the Capitol Limited is a challenge because much of its journey occurs at night. On the western end of the route the train is always operating in the wrong light. Only on the eastern end can you get 29 or 30 in good light.

In Northeast Ohio, No. 30 is scheduled into Cleveland at 1:45 a.m. and No. 29 at 2:53 a.m.

Still, you can get an interesting image on the western end of the route if you work it right.

The glint off P42DC No. 190 was happenstance but I also knew that this time of year the early morning light would favor the north side of the train.

I’m hoping it won’t be another year before I can photograph the Capitol Limited again.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Coming to a Long Distance Train Near You

June 18, 2021

Amtrak recently took delivery of its first Siemens ACL-42 locomotive. Released from the factory in Sacramento, California, it deadheaded on the California Zephyr to Chicago where it was displayed at a press event at Union Station on Tuesday.

On Wednesday night it deadheaded to Washington on the Capitol Limited. It will be sent to Wilmington, Delaware, for testing before entering revenue service later this year.

Amtrak has ordered 75 ACL-42 locomotives, which are similar in design and appearance to the Siemens SC-44 locomotives now in service on Midwest and West Coast corridor trains.

The ACL-42 is slated to replace the General Electric-built P42DC locomotives that have been the backbone of the national network since the late 1990s.

The livery shown on No. 300 is expected to adorn some of the initial ACL-42s released in the coming months. However, Amtrak has said it is working to design another livery that will be applied to most ACL-42s.

Amtrak Displays New ACL-42 Locomotive

June 16, 2021

Amtrak displayed its first ALC-42 locomotives on Tuesday, saying it is expected it to go into service in two to three months.

The unit on display in Chicago on Tuesday will be sent to Wilmington, Delaware, for testing before entering revenue service on eastern long distance trains serving Washington, most likely the Crescent, Capitol Limited, and Cardinal.

The initial eight ALC-42 engines will have what Amtrak has termed a “transitional” livery of blue on the carbody ending at a red chevron.

The design is meant to be reminiscent of the Phase I livery that has been reapplied to P42DC No. 161, which was also on display Tuesday at Union Station.

Amtrak’s Devon Parsons, senior manager of equipment engineering, said the ALC-42 units are similar to the Siemens SC-44 chargers that pull corridor service trains in the Midwest and the West.

But the ALC-42 locomotives feature a few feature changes including newer technology for a number of systems.

Other changes include redesigned front end framed windows and a removable nose “to reduce our shop out-of-service from strike damage.”

Whereas the SC-44 units have a 1,800 gallon fuel tank, the ALC-42s come with a 2,200-gallon fuel tank.

Parsons said the ALC-42’s computer program was revised to address wheel slip issues reported on the SC-44 locomotives.

Amtrak has ordered 75 ALC-42 locomotives that will be delivered through 2024 at a rate of about two per month.

The next ALC-42 to be delivered wlll be No. 301, which will have the predominantly black, one-off “Day One” livery that adorned a single E8A unit to mark the inauguration of Amtrak in 1971.

The ALC-42 fleet will replace P42DC locomotives that are now standard on national network trains.